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1st Floor Lona House
212 Upper Buitengracht
Bo Kaap, Cape Town, 8001

Jaime-Lee Gardner
072 171 1979

Louise Martin
073 335 4084

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Size counts – at least for kitchen appliances

Standard sizes for appliances were implemented about 10 years ago, but some kitchens are older than that

By Di Brown

, |

Size counts – at least for kitchen appliances

Standard sizes for appliances were implemented about 10 years ago, but some kitchens are older than that

By Di Brown

, |

4 min read

When you’re buying in an established estate, you can often get a good deal if the house needs a bit of TLC – and the kitchen is where most people start. The cupboards and counters may still be fine, but built-in hobs do tend to show their age, so they are one of the first things you’re likely to want to replace. Ovens also deteriorate over time.

Those glass windows never remain sparkly and clear, gaskets leak, and the hot air escapes causing flopped cakes. So, yeah, it’s nice to get new appliances with your new home. But – caveat emptor – that may not be quite as simple as you think, as I discovered recently when I had to repair my oven.


Spares and repairs – the stuff of nightmares

You would think that replacing the element and repairing or replacing an oven door would be as easy as ordering the parts and getting an electrician to do the work.

Think again.

Standard sizes for appliances were implemented about 10 years ago, but my kitchen is older than that. So, what I thought would be a simple repair turned into a nightmare of epic proportions.


The sad stove saga

It starts with a Google search of the manufacturer’s name to find a number for the spares department. This brings up endless lists of sales outlets, agents and a web page with a 404 error. Eventually a contact number is found. This results in seven minutes of listening to recorded marketing, followed by a friendly voice that is unable to help, and cuts me off when transferring the call to someone who might be able to help.

The process is repeated and finally I reach a real living person in the spares department. To assist, they need a whole range of information that I don’t have, having only noted the name and model number on the front of the oven. After finding a torch, pen and paper, and sticking my head in the oven searching for a small-print serial number of a million characters I return triumphantly to the phone and read off said number.

No, they don’t have stock, and don’t make that model any more, but they can source it from somewhere else at a cost that is close to the price of a new stove.

In the background, the electrician mutters about how hard it is to get spares, and if we do find them, expect to wait six to eight weeks for delivery, by which time I will either be bankrupt from eating out, or have starved to death.

Oh – and if I buy a new oven, the guarantee won’t be valid unless it is paired with its sibling hob. So, okay, let’s just buy a new stove and hob. It is probably cheaper than eating out for six weeks, and definitely better than a raw food diet. And, anyhow, the hob is showing its age a bit.


Get out your tape measure and pray

If your kitchen was installed more than 10 years ago, get your tape measure out and pray. You see, about 10 years ago, it was decided to standardise the sizes for most kitchen appliances. This is a very good thing that makes perfect sense, but it’s not much use if your kitchen is from the pre-standard-size era.

The magic numbers are 60 or 90 centimetres wide – 56 centimetres wide is not good. Another Google search leads me to sales outlets and product specifications, and an oven is found that, although classified as 60 centimetres wide, will fit into the space left by the offending oven that was beyond repair. After a trip to purchase the stove with the electrician and his tape measure in tow, the new oven and matching hob are ready to be unwrapped and installed in all their shiny newness.

The width fits and it feels like time to crack open the bubbly, but the electrician is shaking his head. The height of the oven is the problem; it’s just a little too high to fit.


A carpenter to the rescue

Measurements are taken, power tools are fired up, and kitchen cupboards are trimmed, shaved and reconfigured. The oven is covered in sawdust, but it glides into its new space. Out comes the bubbly again as the electrician has wired everything up, no one was electrocuted, and the pristine new hob is being unwrapped.


That pesky size issue returns

The hob that goes with the replacement oven is six centimetres wider and two centimetres longer than the old one. Another Google search ensues, and the name of a granite cutter is found.

He can come in three days.


Cutting granite on site warrants intense eye rolling

Everything is removed from the kitchen. In hindsight, every curtain in the house should have been taken down, all floors should have been covered, and every internal door sealed with industrial-strength gaffer tape. The granite cutter dons a face mask, his assistant stands ready with a bottle of water to cool the blades, and the angle grinder is powered up. The noise is worse than a dinosaur scraping its nails down a blackboard, and all the dogs in the neighbourhood start howling.

A dust storm of epic proportions engulfs the area as the fine microparticles of granite powder float on the air and travel vast distances to land on every surface in the entire house. The hob fits. As the artisans leave, the dust settles.

Repeated mopping and vacuuming occur over the next few days, but the dust is obviously breeding while I sleep. Normal cooking has resumed, and the dog no longer emits puffs of dust when I pat her, but the vacuum cleaner has packed up from overwork, and the thought of getting it repaired is just too much to contemplate right now. However, if I have to buy a new one, at least it should fit in the existing cupboard.

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